The Best Paints For Transforming Your Kitchen Cabinets

Upcycle your way to a stunning kitchen with our handpicked selection of paints.
Tried & Tested: See Our Testing ↓
Written & Tested By: Edward Bailey | Updated:
best paint for kitchen cabinets
Edward Bailey/DIY Works
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Upcycling your old kitchen cabinets with paint is a far more eco-friendly and cost-effective solution than replacing them altogether. As you can see from a recent DIY project we undertook in the photo above, all of the kitchen cabinets were easily removed with a screwdriver and given a fresh lick of paint to completely transform them.

Compared to other types of paint, kitchen cupboard paint needs to withstand everyday use as well as scuffs and scratches. Therefore, if you are planning to paint your wood, melamine or MDF cabinets, it’s crucial that you use durable paint to make it worth your while.

To help you choose a paint for your kitchen cabinets, our hand-picked selection features top-performing paints chosen through our first-hand experience painting wood, melamine and MDF. We also thoroughly tested multiple paints and carried out the latest research.

Rust-Oleum Kitchen Cupboard Paint
Best Overall: Rust-Oleum Kitchen Cupboard Paint
Frenchic Al Fresco Chalk & Mineral Paint
Most Versatile: Frenchic Al Fresco Chalk & Mineral Paint
Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish
Best All-Rounder: Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish
Dulux Satin Cupboard Paint
Best Durability: Dulux Satin Cupboard Paint
Ronseal Cupboard & Melamine Paint
Best One Coat: Ronseal Cupboard & Melamine Paint
Johnstones Revive Kitchen Cupboard Paint
Best Value: Johnstone's Revive Cupboard Paint

How The DIY Works Team Tests & Rates Kitchen Cupboard Paints

Painting kitchen cabinets is far easier than you may first think and it can be achieved with or without taking the cabinets off. Personally, we always take the cabinets off to make painting them much easier and for the sake of a couple of screws, it’s something we would highly recommend you do too.

In terms of our experience, we have carried out multiple kitchen painting projects in both our own properties (Airbnb’s and rentals) as well as family/friends who are attempting to transform their kitchens on a budget.

To give you an idea of the transformation that painting your kitchen cabinets can have, take a look at our most recent project in the before and after photos below.

best paint for kitchen cupboards

Edward Bailey/DIY Works
best kitchen cupboard paint

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

As you can see in the photos, with just a lick of paint and new cabinet handles, the kitchen now looks virtually brand new and this was all achieved at a fraction of the cost of a new kitchen.

For reference, the above kitchen was painted using the best-rated paint in this article, which is of course the Rust-Oleum paint. However, to keep up our commitment to reviewing and testing the latest kitchen cupboard paints (for this article), we are continually testing out the latest offerings from top brands in the UK.

best kitchen cabinet paint

Edward Bailey/DIY Works
best paint for kitchen units

Edward Bailey/DIY Works

As well as our testing and experience with multiple kitchen cupboard paints, we also based our recommendations on the latest research and a number of factors. Some of the factors that we took into consideration included the paint’s finish, ease of application, coverage, colour selection, time to dry, compatible surfaces, durability and value for money.

The Best Kitchen Cupboard Paints

At DIY Works, our content is 100% independent and we would never recommend a product that we wouldn't use ourselves (read our editorial standards and how we test products).

1. Best Overall: Rust-Oleum Kitchen Cupboard Paint

(How We Review →)

The Rust-Oleum brand has gained a lot of traction in the paint industry and for good reason too. They offer a selection of unique paints and one of the brand’s most recent releases is their highly-rated kitchen cupboard paint. It’s a new and improved formulation that’s designed specifically to paint kitchen cabinets with a choice of 18 colours to choose from.

Pros
  • Specifically formulated to paint kitchen cabinets
  • Provides a desirable matt finish
  • Hardwearing, waterproof and scrubbable finish
  • Very easy to apply by brush or roller
  • Designed and developed in the UK
  • Offers great value for the money
  • Low odour output
Cons
  • During a recent upcycling project, we found that it needed a minimum of two coats for the best finish

To conclude, the Rust-Oleum formula is by far the best paint for kitchen cabinets that really does tick all the boxes. Compared to other paints by the brand that can also be used on kitchen cabinets (such as the Chalky Finish), this particular paint has been tweaked to make it perform the best in terms of its finish, ease of application and durability.

2. Most Versatile: Frenchic Al Fresco Chalk & Mineral Paint

(How We Review →)

Frenchic is another niche paint brand in the UK and their Al Fresco formula is a versatile option that’s available in over 20 different colours. According to the brand, it’s perfect for updating your kitchen, bathroom and even painting your front door. It’s also very simple to use because it’s a self-priming and self-sealing formula.

Pros
  • Self-levelling formula that provides a desirable flat finish
  • Can be used on wood, laminate, UPVC, metal and many other surfaces
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor surfaces
  • Superior UV resistance
  • Great selection of modern colours
  • Water-based with minimal VOC content
Cons
  • One of the most expensive paints in our roundup

If you plan to match the colour of your kitchen cabinets with other furniture in your house, the Frenchic Al Fresco is an excellent, versatile option to consider. Although expensive, it offers superior quality and even if you are a beginner, you’ll easily be able to achieve an excellent finish and transform your kitchen.

3. Best All-Rounder: Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish

(How We Review →)

Another popular paint by the Rust-Oleum brand is the Chalky Finish and it’s a paint that also features in our best-rated chalk paint roundup. In terms of using it as a paint for kitchen cabinets, it’s a great alternative to the brand’s dedicated paint because it’s available in a great selection of colours and leaves behind a unique chalky matt finish.

Pros
  • Choice of 15 unique colours
  • Touch to dry in 1 hour and full hardness in 4 hours
  • 14 m2 coverage per litre
  • Easy to apply by brush or roller
  • No sanding required due to its superior adhesion
  • Produces virtually no odour during application
Cons
  • Although the brand states that it only requires a single coat, during testing we found that it required two coats

Overall, the Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish is a high-quality paint that’s durable and leaves a smooth, chalky matt finish. However, the main feature of this paint that makes it so popular is the selection of unique, vintage colours. Each of the colour options are certain to make your kitchen stand out from the crowd and better still, the paint is cheap too.

4. Best Durability: Dulux Satin Cupboard Paint

(How We Review →)

Dulux are a paint brand that need no introduction and their dedicated cupboard paint is a great option to consider. In terms of its formulation, the brand state that compared to its satinwood paint, its kitchen cupboard paints is up to 10 times stronger for a hard-wearing finish that’ll withstand everyday use.

Pros
  • Produces a satin finish
  • Takes 6 hours to dry
  • 16 m2 coverage per litre
  • Doesn't require an undercoat
  • Choice of four popular colour options
Cons
  • Requires two coats for the best results

To conclude, the Dulux Satin Cupboard Paint is a hard-wearing formula that’s produced by one of the best in the business. Compared to any of the alternatives, it also offers far greater coverage per litre and has been developed with durability in mind.

5. Best One Coat: Ronseal Cupboard & Melamine Paint

(How We Review →)

Ronseal is a highly reputable brand and their Melamine and MDF paint is perfect for kitchen cupboards. It’s available in a selection of 11 colours and the brand state that only one coat is needed unless you are covering a bold colour.

Compared to other paints by the brand, this formula is designed primarily for cupboards and to withstand scuffs or scratches from everyday life in your kitchen.

Pros
  • Only requires 1 coat
  • Easy to apply by brush
  • Touch dry in 2 hours
  • Choice of 11 different colours
  • Doesn’t require a primer
Cons
  • From our testing, we found that it used a lot of the paint to cover our "test" cabinets

To conclude, the Ronseal Cupboard Paint is a high-quality and durable paint that’s able to transform your kitchen cupboards in a single coat. The only main drawback is that it does use up a lot of the paint during the application and this may become expensive for large kitchen cabinets.

6. Best Value: Johnstone's Revive Cupboard Paint

(How We Review →)

If you are on a tight budget but require a paint that’s specifically designed for kitchen cupboards, the Johnstone’s Revive is a great option to consider. It’s suitable for all melamine or MDF units and is available in pale grey, antique cream, black and fresh apple colour options.

Pros
  • Doesn’t require an undercoat
  • Touch to dry in 1 hour and recoatable in 5 hours
  • Produces a low amount of odour
  • Suitable for wood, melamine and MDF cabinets
  • 12 m2 coverage per litre
Cons
  • Limited colour options available when compared to the alternatives

To conclude, the Johnston’s Revive is one of the best value kitchen cupboard paints that’s able to provide a high-quality and durable finish. As long as you follow the application instructions, you’ll easily achieve a “like-new” finish with ease.

Conclusion

Compared to regular paint, kitchen cupboard paint is far more hard-wearing and designed for everyday use. Although you could use an emulsion (or similar), you may find yourself having to perform touch-ups regularly.

If you require further information regarding any of our recommended kitchen cabinet paints, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

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